A Persistent Perch: USSOCOMs Use of Organic Space Based ISR
Air Command And Staff College Maxwell Air Force Base United States
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US Special Operations Command USSOCOM has, for the better part of the past decade, been Americas lead combatant command in the fight against terrorism. SOCOM has a demanding repertoire of activities that require significant support from a variety of different warfighting enablers, most notably intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance ISR assets. In order to augment and supplement the commands dependence on persistent air-breathing ISR orbits, USSOCOM needs to consider fielding the capability to procure, configure, launch, and control its own constellation of space based ISR satellites. Space based ISR has the potential to provide the command with near real time imagery intelligence IMINT over areas of the world that are anti-access or area denied A2AD. A2AD areas of the globe frustrate SOCOM planners and operators as the feasibility to park an airborne ISR asset over an A2AD environment for weeks on end is neither feasible nor possible. If SOCOM leveraged nascent technologies, like CubeSats and fractionated satellite architecture, the command could procure, launch, and control its own satellite constellations cheaper than traditional satellite systems or airborne ISR vehicles.